Happy summer! With the warmer months finally approaching, more people are getting out in nature enjoying the sunshine and hiking. Lots of dog owners are also hitting the trails and taking their dog hiking so I thought this would be a great time to provide you with tips for hiking with dogs in summer!
We currently have two Miniature Australian Shepherd dogs who love hiking and exploring with us and we’ve learned a few things about hiking with dogs through trial and error. I hope you find the following tips helpful and that you also enjoy the pictures throughout this post of our pups, Cap and Marvel.
(PS…Check out 10 Tips for Raising a Puppy in an RV for adorable pics of baby Cap and baby Marvel!)
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I may receive a small commission when you make a purchase using my link. Thank you for your support! Most images in this blog post are courtesy of Luke Terry.
Hiking with dogs in summer vs. other seasons
There are several differences and things you need to take into consideration when hiking with your dogs in the summer. Some are obvious like taking more breaks in the shade to escape the summer heat. Others you may not think of, like protecting their feet from burning pavement or rocks. Let’s dive right into my 12 tips for hiking with dogs in Summer.
Research and plan in advance
Researching is so important! This will help you prepare for your dog’s needs and know exactly what to expect during your hike.
Research the trail
First of all, some trails do not allow dogs to accompany you on your hike. Make sure that the trail you have chosen to hike with your dog allows for them to come along. We like to use the AllTrails app to research the trails we pick and make sure that they are dog friendly.
National parks are not usually dog friendly but many state parks are. You can also search for “dog-friendly trails near me” and you should have a list pop up you can choose from.
You also want to make sure that the trail you have picked is suitable for your dog. Don’t pick a trail that is too long for them or that requires tasks like climbing rock walls or wading through a river if that is something they are not comfortable doing.
If you are trying to find a way to keep your dog cool in the summer, consider hiking a trail with a river or lake that they can play in. Our dogs love playing in the water when they can!
Research the wildlife you may encounter
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the wildlife that you may encounter on your hike with your dog. Know if there are any venomous snakes in the area or other animals that could potentially harm your furry companion.
If there are known to be venomous snakes then do not allow your dogs to get far from you and always keep an eye on the trail ahead of them/you. Also, do not allow them to sniff around under overhanging rocks and ledges where snakes might be hanging out.
Familiarize yourself with any other wildlife you may come across and do not allow your dog to bark at or agitate other animals on the trail.
Plan according to the weather
You should always check the weather before your hikes. If it is going to be a hot day, consider hiking early in the morning or in the late evening to avoid the heat of the day.
We typically check the weather on the days leading up to a planned hike as well as the morning of. Prepare yourself for any weather situation that could come up during your hike, especially if you are doing a longer trail.
Use tick repellant when necessary
If you’re going to be hiking in a wooded area where ticks are present, make sure you use a proper tick repellant on your dog. Ticks can carry diseases to both humans and dogs so it’s very important to use repellant and avoid them as well as you can. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it properly right away.
We use these tick repellant drops on our dogs every month and it’s made a big difference in the number of ticks they seem to pick up.
Bring plenty of water and snacks
Of course you won’t forget drinking water and snacks for yourself, but don’t forget them for your dogs as well!
I can’t stress this one enough, make sure to bring plenty of water! Your dogs will be very thirsty from the exercise, especially in the heat of summer. I recommend bringing more water than you think you’ll need. It’s always better to have too much water than not enough! Think about how much you will need for the entire round-trip hike.
If you’re planning on a long hike, consider packing a few snacks for your dog as well. They need to replenish their energy just like you do! We generally just take a container of our dog’s food but you can also take dog protein snacks like these Power Bites dog snacks.
Having a collapsible dog bowl for them to eat and drink out of saves precious room in your pack. We ordered this one and like it because it has a hook and we are able to hook it to Cap’s harness. It doesn’t weigh much at all and he doesn’t mind one bit. When it’s time for a break he patiently waits as we unhook it and grab a water bottle to fill it up with.
Paw protection and care
Hiking with your dogs in the summer means that you have to be more cautious about their paws and protect them from injuries.
Doggie hiking boots protect your dog’s paws from being injured. If they are walking/climbing on sharp rocks, they could get cuts on their paw pads. Also, if it is a hot day, the ground they are walking on can heat up and burn the pads of their paws. This actually happened to Cap and we bought him protective boots shortly after that.
We usually carry our doggie hiking boots with us and only use them if necessary since the dogs don’t like to wear them. Every little bit I feel the ground with my bare hand to make sure it’s not too hot and I also check the bottoms of their feet for any sign of injury/irritation.
Carry a dog first-aid kit with you
If your dog is injured on a hike, you need to be able to take care of them with basic first aid. I like this dog first aid kit because it contains everything you would need to treat a minor injury and it’s compact. It even has a convenient hook to where your dog could carry it if you wanted them to.
Regardless of what you decide to go with, make sure you are prepared and able to take care of your dog in case of a trail emergency.
Good trail manners and necessities
This really should go without saying, but follow the rules of the trail. You are not the exception to the rules!
Leashing your dog
Oftentimes, rules about leashing your dog on trails are for their own protection. There may be cacti in the desert that could injure them, cliffs in the mountains they could fall over, or wild animals like snakes that could harm them.
It is also courteous to other dog owners on the trail. When we took Marvel hiking for the first time, she was still learning obviously, and there were lots of new things for her to take in. Some irresponsible dog owners thought they were the exception to the rule and let their dogs off-leash.
Two of the dogs approached Marvel aggressively and I had to pick her up and run with her to get away from them as they were biting at her. It scared both me and her and could have been completely avoided if the owners had simply followed the rules and leashed their dogs.
There are some trails that allow well-behaved dogs to be off-leash and of course, that is perfectly acceptable then.
Use a harness instead of a collar
I highly recommend using a harness for hiking with your dog instead of a collar. Using a harness is much more comfortable for them and doesn’t choke them as a collar might. It also makes it easier for you to control them.
We like to use Kong Comfort padded harnesses for our dogs. Marvel has a pink harness and Cap has a red harness. They have convenient handles on the top of the harness that allow you to quickly grab and hold your dog closely when needed.
If you want your dog to carry more of its own gear, consider a dog backpack harness that has plenty of room for its collapsible bowls, snacks, poop bags, first aid kit, and more!
Be considerate of other dog owners and hikers
When you’re passing other hikers on the trail, keep your dogs close to you and don’t allow them to bother other hikers. If another dog approaches, keep your dog back from them unless you ask the other dog’s owner for permission for them to greet each other.
Pick up your dog’s poop and throw it away when you reach the next garbage can. If it is off the trail, at the very least bury it. No one wants to step in dog doo-doo!
Listen to your dog
Dogs know their limits and will let you know when they need something. Listen to them and don’t ignore them!
Remember, they are wearing a fur coat to hike in often brutal summer heat. If they need to stop and rest in the shade, let them. Offer them drink breaks as often as they need them. This will help them to stay cooler and hydrated and avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Know your dog’s limits and don’t push them to do too much. If your dog has never hiked with you before, then a 10-mile trail isn’t going to be a great starting point. Start small and work your way up to longer trails over time as you learn what your dog can handle and enjoy. Before you know it, you’ll have a happy adventure dog!
I hope you have found these tips for hiking with dogs in summer helpful and that you enjoy many wonderful hikes with your dogs this summer! Happy hiking!